Health Online for Teens: An Australian technology based lifestyle program for obese adolescents

Years funded:
2018

With more than one quarter of Australian adolescents now overweight or obese and weight status being an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease there is an urgent need to develop effective lifestyle programs that are accessible, engaging and cost-effective.

Advances in technology provide an opportunity to deliver innovative lifestyle programs; yet to date there have been no Australian fully online programs developed for obese adolescents and only a small number exist internationally. 

Following a commissioned review of the literature we are designing an interactive online healthy lifestyle group program that we have named HOT, or Health Online for Teens. 

HOT is an online family-based, multi-component program consisting of 2 sessions and 4 modules over 14 weeks. It utilises innovative technologies, including a conversational interface powered by artificial intelligence facilitating instant and personalised communication with participants. 

The program will be evaluated through questionnaires and focus groups for impact, outcome and process. Additionally, usage of the program measured via metrics (e.g. time spent per screen/page) together with program satisfaction will inform engagement with the program elements. 

The significance of this project is that it will pilot a new and innovative, evidence-based approach to address the public health priority of adolescent obesity, which aligns with recommendations from the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. 

It is crucial to intervene and curb obesity during the teenage years to prevent irreversible cardiovascular damage and minimise heart health risks as adolescents transition into adulthood. 

If successful, HOT has the potential to be accessible to at-risk teens Australia wide at a very affordable price and we would aim to provide this evidence as part of a fully scaled experimental study.

Researcher Profile

Professor Michelle Miller

Institute: The Flinders University of South Australia
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